I'm Becoming Frustrated


Senior Member
This might be a long post, so fair warning.

I'm a self taught drummer, been playing almost 20 years. I basically had to just learn on the job as about 6 months into starting drums, I started playing drums at my church. Been playing in churches and church settings ever since, and about 3 years in I joined my first actual band. Also been doing that ever since. It wasn't until 5 or 6 years ago that I started realizing how terrible my posture and technique actually was when I couldn't figure out why my hands were cramping all the time and why my lower back started hurting when I played. So, I went and looked up a few online lessons just on stick technique and posture.

Now, fast forward to the last 2 years and I finally decided that I actually suck at drums and never learned how to play paradiddles or any rudiments. So I've started trying to learn this type of stuff to incorporate into my playing. I realized that I actually do a few different types of rudiments already, only I learned them by throwing them into a song. But, when it comes time to try and practice said rudiment on its own, or move it around the kit, I am terrible.

So, I need some advice because I'm starting to get frustrated that I'm not picking this stuff up as fast as I think I should be given my experience. For instance, this week I've been trying to learn Steve Gadd's Flutter Lick. I'll play it slowly for a good amount of time, then speed it up to a decent level. However, when I go back the next day or even later on the same day, it's like I have to learn it all over from the beginning.

Any advice on how to practice effectively? I know I need to be patient with myself for one, but that doesn't seem to be happening for me right now.

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Play the first page of Stick Control at 50 bpm (50=8th note) for 10 minutes a day for about 3 months. That’s your first lesson, come back in 3 months.


Platinum Member
My advice is to actually be more patient, which you already know, but have to get into action. Developing patience can take as much discipline as doing rudiments.
Ask yourself, if you still enjoy playing, does it matter how fast you advance in getting rudiments or any trick licks into your playing?
I've been practicing the 6 stroke roll..on pad..on kit.. on my steering wheel....whatever....for 3 years. Only this year, has it made its way into my playing around the kit. Its a journey, no race.


Gold Member
Play the first page of Stick Control at 50 bpm (50=8th note) for 10 minutes a day for about 3 months. That’s your first lesson, come back in 3 months.
^ This.

During this season of exercise, sit & play with only the kick, snare and hi-hat. Lose all toms and cymbals and other goo-gahs. Get the seat height perfect for playing just the snare, then dial in the placement of the kick & hats. It should feel like putting on a soft glove that you don't even notice wearing. Then put a full-length mirror to your side to watch for slumping.

If necessary, install a backrest to your throne. I think they help with posture.


Senior Member
Play the first page of Stick Control at 50 bpm (50=8th note) for 10 minutes a day for about 3 months. That’s your first lesson, come back in 3 months.
Jesus, I guess I am being way too impatient then.

As far as @opentune's comments go; It is definitely worth it to me to improve in these areas. My skill level and experience have definitely paid off beyond what I could have imagined when I started out. I've actually been blessed to be able to tour and make touring my full time job for almost two years now. However, I am constantly striving to improve and get better. Even if I never get to use this stuff in the kind of music I'm playing (I definitely will but you see my point), I still want to be able to confidently know that I can pull stuff out at any point if I need to.

Guess I need to grab me the Stick Control book. I'm gonna set a reminder in my phone and come back at the end of May and tell you what's happening, lol.

Thanks for the advice, guys.


Senior Member
all single stroke rolls can be learned in a month of practice, since you've probably been doing them in part already. So now just count the strokes.
Double stroke rolls, if you have never done them may take 3 months to get acclimated(since you've been playing your wrists are stronger than a novices.)It may take a year to figure out where and how these rolls fit into music, so play to music while hitting a practice pad. Paradiddles, etc. may take a few months more than doubles.

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Have you considered a private teacher? Sometimes it's good to have a coach to guide you in instances like this.

Big Stu

Have you considered a private teacher? Sometimes it's good to have a coach to guide you in instances like this.
A good Teacher and a good coach.
one that can say either.. you really do suck and this is what we're going to do
Or you only suck a bit in these areas and here's what were going to do.
Or your not that bad and here's what we going to do.

So it doesn't really mater if you suck a bit, suck a lot or are pretty good after all.. it's doing what you need to do and enjoying the endless road to being "good"


Senior Member
Another vote for a good drum teacher. I find that I pay mine mostly to slow me down and stick with whatever I'm working on until I really, really master it. Ironically, to my surprise, I've found that being more patient, sitting with and sinking into whatever material I'm working on longer, has made me a better drummer faster. My timing, groove and musicality have improved immensely (isn't this the main reason why others really want to play with us?) and is being evidenced by unsolicited complements from those I play with. I'm less in a rush to get anywhere and yet going places faster. Life can be strange like that...

PS. I too have 20 years of playing experience (and yet get significant benefit from lessons).


Senior Member
I feel your pain. I've been working doubles for at least 20 minutes per day for 6 weeks and progress is slow. I think you can only rush it so much since you aren't just "figuring it out", you are also building muscle memory, muscle tone, neural connections and probably new fast twitch muscle.

I also feel like there's a period of almost getting worse before you get better as you adapt your technique and overthink things a bit compared to when you originally figured out stuff by instinct and built weird habits in the process.


Platinum Member
Besides echoing the consensus to find a teacher....

Sometimes we just get stuck. Sometimes it's for a single song, sometimes it's for a week or two. Limbs don't cooperate, hands lose their finesse, and what looks or sounds relatively simple becomes rocket surgery.

When this happens, I do the following:
- Take it back to the basics. Especially if I get a terminal case of hand-dumb in the middle of a set, I pare back my playing and focus on the beat and keeping everything moving. If I miss a couple of big fills or don't drop those ghost notes, chances are .0001% of the audience will notice, but if I lose the beat, the inverse is probably true.
- Take a mental deep breath. All the time, I get in my head and become my own worst enemy. What's wrong with you? Five-stroke roll too much for you today? That sort of mentality doesn't help anything. Just take a moment to thumb your mental reset switch, and get refocused.
- Move on to something else. If I'm getting stymied in practice, I stick with it just up to the point of frustration. When it becomes clear that today is not the day I master that particular thing, I say, "Well, I'll spend five minutes on it next practice", and move on to the next thing.
- Work on fluency. Drumming is like a language; we have to keep at it or we lose our fluency in it. But the more we keep at it, the less we have to think about it, and it begins to happen. Bring the concept back to basics - isolate the sticking or the rhythm, work through that little bit until it becomes fluid, then incorporate it in context, then on to the next.
- Gain perspective. Even though I've been playing drums for over thirty years now, I feel as if only in the last seven or eight years have I really focused on becoming a more proficient, fluent drummer. Prior to that I did play a lot of gigs and get really good at tuning the drums, understanding the equipment, and gaining experience on gigs and tours, so I don't feel it's wasted time. Still, I recognize I have a lot left to learn. I look at Louie Bellson, who was in his 60s when I saw him play on the Tonight Show in the early 80s. At that point, he's been playing for about 40-someodd years, and his sheer ability on the instrument left me dumbfounded. When I think back to that show, I realize I've still got 15-someodd years to go before I'm at his age, which is all the time in the world!

For you to have stuck with drumming these many years, you must love doing it. All of us get in a rut now and again. It's okay. It happens. Just don't give up.


Senior Member
So, you're frustrated that you can't master what takes people 10 years in 1 day?
Nope. You definitely didn't read the whole post, lol. I said I've been working from the basics for the past 2 years. The one specific example I gave was just the most recent thing I've been trying.


Platinum Member
What's the story Goodcat, are you able to read music? Are you able to count rhythms? The first step to getting this stuff happening is to actually understand rhythm. Get a copy of Syncopation and learn to play the whole thing on a snare drum. A teacher can tell you everything you need to know about that in 1-3 lessons. I would also start relearning all your basic stuff on drum set by playing through a book like Funky Primer-- that's a good one because it makes it easy to count the rhythm of all the parts put together. You can also do the 8th note and 8th/16th parts of Stick Control at a normal slow-med tempo, like quarter note = 60-100.

Going from years of playing by feel to knowing what you're doing is not a fun process. I would give up on the idea of trying to get real performance results from your practicing for the time being. Forget what you think you know and stop doing all the things you think you're good at and just drill the stuff, knowing where you are rhythmically at all times.


Senior Member
I know this isn't a new opinion, but please please go see a good drum teacher in person.....taking private lessons face to face with a real person is very important when you're dealing with the fundamentals. Videos can be great but they can't look at your body and hands and tell you what to change. It sounds like you need that kind of help. It's hard work but you can eradicate old bad habits if you're patient and diligent in your practice. Good luck! If you love drumming--and it sounds like you do--it will be worth the effort.


Platinum Member
I'm only a few years behind you, and also self taught, been spending about 3 years fixing old habbits.

Set a dedicated practice time per day I do about an hour on the pad if I can, sometimes I'll split it with the kit which I try and get 30 minutes or so too.

Now, don't learn 40 rudiments you're never going to use, singles, doubles, diddles, (inverted, reverse, normal,), 6 stroke roll, double para diddles, flams, flam taps, etc.. I use these in actual playing.

Second. Pick one or 2. Don't even learn 10 at once. Get an A+ in paradiddles or doubles before trying to get a bunch of d-'s

How fast are your paradiddles? Do you play to a click? how fast are your doubles? how is your technique?

I play to a click EVERY DAY and can get my diddles very clean to about 180/190 right now once I am warm. Inverted are right behind.... I play to a click, and slowly increase it day by day, but focus on your fingers not leaving the stick, coming straight down on the drum, holding the stick loose. If you have any issues with that SLOW DOWN while you practice.

Next step. Youtube has a ton of stuff. You can find people doing paradiddle solos, paradiddle fills, rudiments around the kit and more. First learn how to copy other people. Once you do that you can become creative.

Here is a video I made on a paradiddle fill a while back, you could repeat it over and over as an exercise.

Here are some rudiments I use as my "goto's"


Senior Member
The "Gadd flutter kick" wouldn't be the first thing I'd chose to learn if I were to improve my playing around the kit. Lots of small muscle memory and syncopation which goodcat doesn't have...yet.
Since you've been touring for two yrs., what kind of music have you been playing? You have to have some kind of coordination to carry that off, right? Has it been so easy to play just using single strokes? Well, then, you've probably mastered those.
So what is it you really need to be more fluid around the drums? I wouldn't say rudiments as first choice. Maybe it's what I call "phrasing" and others say "triplets." In other words not keeping to the basic 4/4 but instead, thinking in terms of dynamics(still keeping the time) and syncopation all around the kit. And skip the books-listen to music that incorporates the fluid, laid back drumming you want to learn. And then do your version of those things. Oh, and learn a few shuffle patterns, learn some funk, just to vary the standard kick pattern you've undoubtedly learned to love already.


Senior Member
What helps me for posture is to practice in front of a mirror. You can also see yourself whether your hands are relaxed or not. Alternatively, you can record yourself playing.

That might get you started for now. But in the long term, a good instructor will really help.


Platinum Member
I'll play it slowly for a good amount of time, then speed it up to a decent level. However, when I go back the next day or even later on the same day, it's like I have to learn it all over from the beginning.

Any advice on how to practice effectively?
This sounds pretty normal. You practice slowly, speed up, and things are good. Then you come back and it's like starting all over.

1. Take breaks. Practice the thing for a few minutes, then work on something else, then come back to it. Do this a few times each practice session.

2. Practice every day. (EVERY F*****G DAY!). Muscle memory comes fastest when you get a bit of practice daily. Your sleeping time is when the lessons of the day get worked over by your brain. Don't skip a day.

3. Place the lick into context. Play a groove you know well, slowly, for one measure, and then the lick for one measure, and return back, going "into" and "out of" the lick. Transitions need to be smooth.

The flutter lick is a very tough lick -- you need great control over your double strokes. Nearly all self-taught drummers can't do it, because their hand technique just isn't there. Consider working with a teacher on lessons like this.